WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is clamping down on alleged financial operatives for the military-run government of Myanmar, as well as companies believed to be providing support for the regime.
The Treasury Department's action Monday covers Steven Law and his father, Lo Hsing Han, whom the department called "two key financial operatives" of the repressive junta in Myanmar, also know as Burma. The order also targets some companies in which the two are involved. Law's wife, Cecilia Ng, also is covered by the order.
The order also takes action against some businesses connected to Tay Za, described by the U.S. as a Myanmar business tycoon and arms dealer with close ties to Myanmar's military junta.
Any bank accounts or other financial assets found in the United States that belong to those named Monday must be frozen. Americans also are prohibited from doing business with them.
"The situation in Burma remains deplorable," President Bush said in a statement. "The regime has rejected calls from its own people and the international community to begin a genuine dialogue with the opposition and ethnic minority groups." Citing Monday's action by the Treasury, Bush said "concerted international pressure is needed to achieve a genuine transition to democracy in Burma."
It marked the latest move by the administration to financially punish Myanmar's military-run government and its backers for a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
Asia World Co. Ltd, a major conglomerate in Myanmar, and its subsidiaries, Asia World Port Management, Asia World Industries Ltd and Asia World Light Ltd were covered by Monday's blocking order. Lo Hsing Han founded Asia World Co. Ltd in 1992, the department said. His son, Law, is the current managing director, the department said.
"Asia World has provided critical support to the Burmese regime and has received numerous lucrative government concessions, including the construction of ports, highways and government facilities," the department alleged.
Lo Hsing Han and his son have a history of involvement in illicit activities, the department alleged. Lo Hsing Han is known as the "Godfather of Heroin," the department said. Law joined his father's "drug empire in the 1990s and has since become of one of the wealthiest individuals in Burma," the department said.
"Unless the ruling junta in Burma halts the violent oppression of its people, we will continue to target those like Steven Law who sustain it and who profit corruptly because of that support," said Stuart Levey, the department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
Treasury also targeted two hotel chains owned by Tay Za — Aureum Palace Hotels & Resorts and Myanmar Treasure Resorts.
The department also identified companies in Singapore owned by Ng, including Golden Aaron Pte. Ltd, "the property interests of which are now blocked," Treasury said.